Research Briefs


Thinking Big by Thinking Small: Tracy Farmer Institute Scientists Focusing on the Health Risks of Nanoparticles

The nano-explosion is on. Nanoparticles, far lighter but stronger than steel and a million times smaller than the head of a pin, are now being used in 1,500 consumer products, according to Paul Bertsch, UK professor of environmental chemistry and toxicology, and director of the UK Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment. Plastic imbued with clay nanoparticles helps make Miller Brewing Co. beer bottles less likely to break and improves how long the brew lasts in storage. Simply H’s Toddler Health nutritional drink mix includes 300-nanometer (300 billionths of a meter) iron particles. Other products that contain nanoparticles? Odorless socks, hockey sticks, drug-delivery systems, and the list keeps growing. A wide range of cooking and cleaning items, for example, now employ nanosize silver particles to kill microbes. Read more »

Climate Change

Weathering Climate Change: Tracy Farmer Group Focusing on How Kentucky Agriculture Can Adapt

Global warming? Climate change? "We've always had unpredictable changes in the weather," some say. "What we've seen in the past few years isn't anything that different." Though there are still some nay-sayers on the topic of climate change, there is more and more evidence that change is real, and change is here. Perhaps the most compelling piece of evidence is the increase in the surface temperature of the planet, but there are other aspects of the climate system that are now providing us with an increasingly compelling case that something very different is happening to our climate. "The recent Atlanta heat wave had been a one in one hundred year event, but is now a one-in-30-year event," says Alice Turkington, a University of Kentucky associate professor of geography. "Even more scary—this may become a yearly event in Atlanta." Read more »


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